Area packaging company plans $1M expansion, hiring more workers

Jarod and Mari Wenrick, owners of Englewood’s Value Added Packaging, say their packages have to keep pace with their customers’ products. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

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Jarod and Mari Wenrick, owners of Englewood’s Value Added Packaging, say their packages have to keep pace with their customers’ products. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

When businesses sell products, they need packages. And that’s where a company like Value Added Packaging comes in.

The Lau Parkway box and package manufacturer is growing, planning a new research and development lab and hiring more workers.

The company needs the space. It is leasing an additional 30,000 square feet across Lau from its main facility. But that leasing will end when the company expands behind its current building in 2019.

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In all, Value Added Packaging — sometimes called “VAP” — is expanding by some 40,000 square feet.

The total value of the investment in the lab and expansion exceeds $1 million, with the lab taking about $200,000. The physical expansion will begin mid- to late-2019.

“We’re definitely growing,” said Mari Wenrick, who owns the company with her husband Jarod.

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VAP is up to 55 employees and is almost constantly hiring, with immediate needs for eight to 10 people in customer service and engineering.

In a brisk economy, VAP customers are shipping an increased amount of products. They need packages that can protect those products and serve their own customers. And package designs cannot push costs up.

The VAP approach means going into customers’ businesses and seeing directly what they need, the Wenricks said.

“We typically serve manufacturing companies,” Jarod Wenrick said. “The Dayton area has a lot of manufacturing.”

Honda is a big VAP customer. If you wreck your Honda Civic, your new fender will likely arrive in a VAP-produced box.

One area VAP does not serve is retail. What the company does is typically more detailed and engineered.

“It’s really a commodity arena, a lot of price-drivers,” Jarod said of retail. “The companies that typically service those (retail customers) own the mills and the trees and the forest.”

VAP buys paper and converts it into the material it needs — cutting and molding it after computer design.

Another big growth arena for VAP: Exports — and lots of them.

“More and more manufacturers export,” Jarod said. “They need a solution for that, a low-cost solution.”

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Steady growth has become almost routine for VAP since the late 90s, when the company was born in the couple’s home. An early inspiration for Jarod was seeing how Sam Club deployed boxes in sales floor displays. He took his background in graphics and corrugated printing and designed his own boxes.

The company’s next stops included a 3,000-square-foot building, then a 20,000-square-foot space in the Otterbein Industrial Park. The current facility was first built in 1999.

VAP leaders pride themselves on “culture” — their own approach in how they treat customers and each other. They call it “the VAP way.”

“The atmosphere we have here at VAP has really been positive for our growth,” Mari said.

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Employees routinely create VAP “care” packages for families who find themselves staying at Dayton Children’s for extended periods of time. They also distribute care packages to the homeless in the downtown area, guided by a retired Dayton police officer.

The charitable work doesn’t necessarily help VAP grow as a business, but it does unite the work force, the Wenricks believe. And they see that as a long-term investment.

“Just to do that together as a team, it’s so engaging,” Mari said.

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